I recently heard an analyst declare that he now operated in a 'continuous interrupt' mode of work. This is one driven by portable wireless and instant messaging technologies. These in turn, he said, have brought substantial productivity gains to many organisations. He added that demand for them will only grow as the youth, which grew up with SMS/instant messaging, finds its way into the workforce.
This may all prove true, but such a work environment could be a crappy and stressful place to be. Except for tasks that demand low levels of concentration, you would think productivity would drop. Even for simple processes, surely "continuous interrupt" would cause workplace health and safety problems? This has a whiff of American technology hype spinning out of control (and it's probably better to look to Europe for a reality check).
I won't name the "continuous interrupt" analyst because it was just one line out of a long and interesting presentation. But it does have me thinking about how instant communications and portable technologies will continue to change work environments. They are not new, just improving. Has your workplace changed significantly in the last few years as a result of these technologies?
So far we've seen efficiencies in having interfaces on wireless portable devices feeding straight into back-end ERP systems, for instance. Mobile telephony has had an obvious and major impact. WLANs are growing on the periphery of corporate wired networks, but mainly seem to be deployed in schools (at least on the basis of press release evidence). It remains to be seen whether the arrival of Wi-Fi hotspots will be significant to enterprise IT. Perhaps most people will continue to sit at cramped coffee shop tables only to drink coffee.
In a survey of Australian IT managers conducted by IDC late last year, only 11 per cent of respondents listed wireless LANS as a "must have". However, the same survey had slightly more than 50 per cent listing remote access as a "must have". So remote communications is essential, but the push to the wireless networking world is hardly overwhelming.
Except for zealots, always connected may not be desirable.